Folic acid, which is a B vitamin, can reduce the risk of spina bifida by about 70% if taken prior to pregnancy and during the early part of pregnancy.
If there is a history of myelomeningocoele or meningocoele (or other, rarer, neural tube defects) within your family we recommend that you take 5mg of folic acid each day, this is 10 times the standard dose, for at least three months before you become pregnant and for the first 3 months of the pregnancy. This higher dose is only available on prescription from your GP. The standard dose (0.5mg per day) should be taken at other times when you are not planning a pregnancy.
All first-degree female relatives ( a mother, a sister, and female children of both parents) of individuals, both male and female, who have spina bifida themselves or who have had a pregnancy affected by spina bifida should follow the advice above.
Female partners of males affected by spina bifida or those with a relevant family history should also take the increased dose when planning a pregnancy. Women on seizure medication or with diabetes should also take the increased dose of folic acid.